As we celebrate the Jewish holiday of Tu BiSh’vat or the New Year of Trees, we think of new beginnings, strong growth and the fruit of our labors being our reward.

The sense of new beginnings does remind me of the emergence of the State of Israel from its ancient history with Judaism at its core. As Alex Ryvchin said in writing about Zionism (it) achieved the unprecedented return of an ancient, persecuted, scattered people to the land of their forebears and the restoration of their political independence.

So this was to be the fruit born out the ideal of Zionism and has proved to be the catalyst to bringing the Jewish people in Israel and across the Diaspora together.

However, the challenges to Zionism and the Jewish people continue with the regretful emergence of heightened levels of anti-Semitism and the distortion of the meaning and attacks on the word Zionism. As Ryvchin further wrote Support for Israel and sympathy for Zionism in the West is largely attributable to the ability of Jewish leaders to articulate the justness and necessity of Zionism and communal unity on this issue.

And so, I sincerely hope we all wish to be part of the new beginnings and the strong growth of ARZA Australia, so that the fruit of our labors will be a safe and strong Israel, a pluralistic Israel and an egalitarian Israel where there is equality of religious practice and belief for all.

ARZA President, Helen Shardey

ARZA President, Helen Shardey